Groundwater Basin Adjudication Information
Information for Ventura County Waterworks Districts (District) Nos. 1 (Moorpark) & 19 (Somis) property owners who received a Notice of Commencement of Groundwater Basin Adjudication from JND Legal Administration regarding the Las Posas Valley Water Rights Coalition case
Q: What is the Groundwater Basin Adjudication?
A: In 2018, a few agricultural landowners (“Plaintiffs”) that overlie the Las Posas Groundwater Basin (“Basin”), a groundwater basin that underlies an area between roughly Somis and Moorpark, filed a comprehensive groundwater adjudication lawsuit to determine the rights of all persons to extract groundwater from this Basin. The lawsuit seeks a court adjudication of groundwater rights against all persons or entities that either (a) extract, or pump, groundwater from this basin, such as Ventura County Waterworks Districts Nos. 1 and 19, several water mutual companies, and several farm operators or (b) own real property overlying this basin.
Q: Why did I receive this Notice? Am I being sued? Is this a Class Action Lawsuit?
A: You received Plaintiffs’ mailing of their Notice of Commencement of Groundwater Basin Adjudication, Second Amended Verified Complaint and Answer to Adjudication Complaint because you are a property owner overlying this Basin. Although Plaintiffs’ Complaint likely does not list you as a defendant by name, it is Plaintiffs intent to serve you as a party to this lawsuit so that you are bound by a court judgment determining water rights. The amount of money that you pay for water and your property rights may be affected by this lawsuit. No, this is not a class action lawsuit; however, it involves the interests of thousands of property owners.
Q: Are Plaintiffs seeking money damages against me?
A: No, they are not.
Q: Will this Adjudication affect my water rate?
First, Waterworks Districts Nos. 1 and 19 have been forced to retain experienced, specialized outside water counsel and hydrology experts to represent them in this litigation. Being sued and defending water rights costs money. This legal cost will be born by the Districts’ ratepayers.
Second, if plaintiffs succeed in their claims, Waterworks Districts Nos. 1 and 19 will lose some or all of their right to pump groundwater in the Basin and will be forced to purchase more imported State Water Project (“SWP”) water. SWP water is dramatically more expensive than locally pumped groundwater, and this would cause water rates to increase substantially. In Waterworks District 1, 19% of all water distributed to customers is groundwater pumped from the Basin and 81% is imported SWP water. In Waterworks District 19, 64% of all water distributed is Basin groundwater and 36% is imported SWP water.
Q: Why have Ventura County Waterworks Districts Nos. 1 and 19 Been Sued?
A: Because they pump groundwater from the Basin to supply to their customers. The Waterworks Districts, and/or their legal predecessors, have been pumping groundwater from the Basin for 75 years or more. In this litigation, Plaintiffs (some of whom do not even own wells and have never pumped groundwater from the Basin) allege that the rights of Waterworks District Nos. 1 and 19 to pump groundwater in this Basin are “junior” to the rights of Plaintiffs and other overlying property owners. Waterworks District Nos. 1 and 19 vigorously dispute this allegation.
Q: What can I do to help? What if I have more questions about the Adjudication?